The left and the masses

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION -

The great­est moral claim of the po­lit­i­cal Left is that they are for the masses in gen­eral and the poor in par­tic­u­lar. That is also their great­est fraud. It even fools many leftists them­selves.

One of the most re­cent ef­forts of the Left is the spread of laws and poli­cies that for­bid em­ploy­ers from ask­ing job ap­pli­cants whether they have been ar­rested or im­pris­oned. This is said to be to help ex­cons get a job af­ter they have served their time, and ex-cons are of­ten ei­ther poor or black, or both.

First of all, many of the Left’s poli­cies to help blacks are dis­pro­por­tion­ately aimed at help­ing those blacks who have done the wrong thing – and whose vic­tims are dis­pro­por­tion­ately those blacks who have been try­ing to do the right thing. In the case of this ban on ask­ing job ap­pli­cants whether they have crim­i­nal back­grounds, the only cri­te­rion seems to be whether it sounds good or makes the Left feel good about them­selves.

Hard ev­i­dence as to what ac­tual con­se­quences to ex­pect be­fore­hand, or hard ev­i­dence as to its ac­tual con­se­quences af­ter­wards, seems to have had very lit­tle role in this po­lit­i­cal cru­sade.

An em­pir­i­cal study some years ago ex­am­ined the hir­ing prac­tices of com­pa­nies that did a back­ground check on all the em­ploy­ees they hired. It found that such com­pa­nies hired more blacks than com­pa­nies which did not fol­low that un­usual prac­tice.

Why? This goes back to de­ci­sion-mak­ing by hu­man be­ings in gen­eral, with many kinds of de­ci­sions in gen­eral. Since we sel­dom have all the facts, we are of­ten forced to rely on gen­er­al­iz­ing when mak­ing our de­ci­sions.

Many em­ploy­ers, aware of higher rates of im­pris­on­ment among blacks, are less likely to hire blacks whose in­di­vid­ual back­grounds are un­known to them. But those par­tic­u­lar em­ploy­ers who in­ves­ti­gate ev­ery­one’s back­ground be­fore hir­ing them do not have to rely on such gen­er­al­iza­tions.

The fact that these lat­ter kinds of em­ploy­ers hired more blacks sug­gests that racial an­i­mos­ity is not the key fac­tor, since blacks are still blacks, whether they have a crim­i­nal past or not. But the po­lit­i­cal Left is so heav­ily in­vested in blam­ing racism that mere facts are un­likely to change their minds.

Just as those on the Left were not moved by hard ev­i­dence be­fore they pro­moted laws and poli­cies that for­bad em­ploy­ers to ask about job ap­pli­cants’ crim­i­nal records, so they have re­mained un­moved by more re­cent stud­ies show­ing that the hir­ing of blacks has been re­duced in the wake of such laws and poli­cies.

More­over, the Left is so in­vested in the idea that they are help­ing the dis­ad­van­taged that they sel­dom bother to check the ac­tual con­se­quences of what they are do­ing, whether that is some­thing as spe­cific as ban­ning ques­tions about crim­i­nal be­hav­ior or some­thing as gen­eral as pro­mot­ing the wel­fare state.

In the vi­sion of the Left, the wel­fare state is sup­posed to be a step for­ward, in the di­rec­tion of “so­cial jus­tice.” Tons of painful ev­i­dence, from both sides of the At­lantic Ocean, that the wel­fare state has in fact been a step back­ward to­ward bar­barism – among low­in­come whites in Eng­land and ghetto blacks in the United States – does not make a dent in the be­liefs of the Left.

The Left’s in­fat­u­a­tion with min­i­mum wage laws has like­wise been im­per­vi­ous to fac­tual ev­i­dence that the spread and es­ca­la­tion of min­i­mum wages have been fol­lowed by far higher rates of unem­ploy­ment among young blacks, to lev­els some mul­ti­ple of what they were be­fore – and to a racial gap in unem­ploy­ment among the young that is like­wise some mul­ti­ple of what it was be­fore.

Those who doubt this need only turn to the data on page 42 of “Race and Eco­nom­ics” by Wal­ter Wil­liams, or to the di­a­gram on page 98 of “The Un­heav­enly City,” writ­ten by Ed­ward Ban­field back in 1968. The facts have been avail­able for a long time.

Surely the in­tel­li­gentsia of the Left have ac­cess to em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence and the wit to un­der­stand such ev­i­dence. But the real ques­tion is whether they have the stom­ach to face the prospect that their cru­sades have hurt the very peo­ple they claim to be help­ing.

Ex­am­in­ing hard ev­i­dence would mean gam­bling a whole vi­sion of the world – and of their own role in that world – on a sin­gle throw of the dice, which is what look­ing at hard ev­i­dence amounts to. The path of least re­sis­tance is to con­tinue go­ing through life feel­ing good about them­selves, while leav­ing havoc in their wake. — Orange County Regis­ter,

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